17 Jan
Honestly, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention until Thursday.  I heard what had happened and may have even turned on the news Wednesday morning as I prepared to go into work.  I listened to conversations about the devastation and the tragedy but I was void of much emotion.  I had no idea.
Wednesday evening it started to haunt me little by little.  The stewardship board at Grace (the last in a string of many, many meetings for me that evening) moved to create a new line item in the budget, so people could give to Lutheran Disaster Response through the church.  (Or something – budgets are still beyond me.  There should be an accounting class at seminary.  Seriously.  I would take it.)  Rumors were also circulating on facebook and amongst friends that a college classmate of mine was in Haiti at the time of the quake and unaccounted for; his cousin and wife who were there with him hadn’t been able to find him.  Prayed.
Thursday I went skiing and focused my energy on not falling down; I don’t think I thought about what was going on outside the ski hill once.  I arrived home and the floods of emails and information regarding Ben Larson‘s death began.  A prayer service was being organized in Minneapolis the next night.  I didn’t even really know Ben – I would not call him a close friend – but suddenly the devastation and tragedy had a face, a face I knew.  At Luther, pretty much everyone knows everybody.  Ben and I were involved in college ministry activities together and had religion classes together.  I didn’t know much about him but his music leadership at FOCUS worship each Sunday evening and the fact that, really, if anyone was ever called to be a pastor, it was him.  
I didn’t know if I should go to Minneapolis.  Could I afford the three hours to get there and the three hours in the car coming home when I had a sermon to write for Sunday?  Maybe a responsible person wouldn’t have gone but I was in the car by 8:30 Friday morning, heading to the cities and I’m glad I did.  It was wonderful to gather as a Luther community and a greater community, to sing, to pray, and to lament together.  Though not under wonderful circumstances, it was great to see a few Luther people that I haven’t seen for a long while, including my roommate from freshman year.  It was where I needed to be.
Keep reading onto the next post for the sermon that flowed through my fingers when I arrived back to Dawson on Saturday afternoon.  I received many positive comments regarding it after service.  I actually made people cry!  (I consider this a small sort of accomplishment.  Not that I want to make them cry but it’s a validation that my words meant something and that the Holy Spirit used them.)  I managed to make it through both services without crying myself, though there were moments where it was difficult.
After attending the service on Friday and preaching this morning, I feel filled with passion to do something about this.  If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to donate financially to the Red Cross or Lutheran Disaster Response.  Right now, financial aid to Haiti is a lot of what we can do but in the months and years ahead, there will be so much more.  I also hope to start a drive to collect items for Lutheran World Relief health kits at Grace.  Build your own kits or send some band-aids or washcloths my way to add to the piles that will hopefully grow here at Grace!

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